Cover story

Fresh Start


Kerolyn Soares

Whether you’re streamlining your closet to imbue your look with a renewed sense of purpose or simply want to indulge in some thoughtfully chosen investment pieces, OSMAN AHMED explains how to take heed of the style lessons the past year has taught us – comfort is king, after all – and start the New Year looking and feeling like your best self. Model KEROLYN SOARES showcases the key looks to take note of

Photography Ronan McKenzieStyling Helen Broadfoot
Cover Stories
This image: cardigan, and skirt, both Burberry. Opening image: jacket, and sweater, both Bottega Veneta

New year, new you? Don’t be silly. Dressing for yourself is the only resolution to make this year. Forget the faddish, banish the banal and ditch the detoxes. Just making it through the past year deserves a reward – not denial – and congratulatory self-gifting after a season of gifting to others. And what better way to do exactly that than to hit ‘refresh’ on your closet? A refresh needn’t mean complete overhaul of your existing wardrobe, just as getting dressed needn’t be performance art. Instead, consider it an act of self-reflection; a source of personal joy with a silent sense of fulfilment rather than a chore tied up in dress codes and peacockery.

We’ve logged off from the digitized party season and are making lists and goals for the year ahead. And while it may seem vain to get gussied-up during a pandemic, there couldn’t be a better balm for our anxious souls than to enjoy life on purpose, rather than by default. It’s not about vanity, or whimsical learn-to-love-yourself ideology. You don’t have to be a shrink to know that getting dressed in the morning makes you feel good, rather than just look good. As Diana Vreeland once said: “Style… It helps you get down the stairs in the morning.” Wise words that apply even if we don’t make it out the door.

Jacket, and pants, The Row; shirt, Loewe; hat, Eugenia Kim
Jacket, and pants, The Row; shirt, Loewe; hat, Eugenia Kim; sneakers, Adidas Originals + Wales Bonner

Much has been made of the serotonin-boosting appeal of dressing up – sky-high heels, sequins and all – but let’s be real for a minute. While putting on something fabulously frivolous will never fail to lift one’s spirits – offering a glimmer of escapism, even while remaining homebound – in real life, the greatest outfit is the one you’re most comfortable in, whether that’s hard-working tailoring or comforting cashmere. Great big chunky knits, like Burberry’s argyle cashmere cardigan or Acne Studios’ oversized melange-knit vest, are exactly what the doctor ordered to remedy the January blues.

“Buy, wear, REPEAT” is a brilliant MANTRA for 2021. SHOP like Marie Kondo is standing over your shoulder

Dress, Rejina Pyo; shoes, JW Anderson; earring, Bottega Veneta

As a fashion editor who doesn’t – or at least, didn’t – think twice about wearing feathers to the farmers’ market or Chloé flares for country walks, the past year has heralded the arrival of supple Brunello Cucinelli cashmere track pants and a fuzzy roster of Le Kasha knitwear to my closet. And I don’t intend to go back. Sure, I still like to dress up – it’s a prerequisite of my job, after all – but life is about balance, as I’ve come to learn. Dressing up is always a joy, but dressing for practicality – for no one to witness but myself – is just as much of an art. It deserves the same amount of consideration, even if the effort is minimal. And it goes without saying that, in terms of cost-per-wear, the best sartorial investments to make now are pieces that can be worn over and over again. “Buy, wear, repeat” is a brilliant mantra for 2021. Shop like Marie Kondo is standing over your shoulder.

Even the BAGS to covet right now are cloud-like pochettes that can be slung around the body like PROTECTIVE sartorial cocoons of ARMOR

Top, and blue top (just seen underneath), both Proenza Schouler; briefs, Skin; shell tote (wrapped around model), Transience; padded shell and leather tote, Moncler Genius + 1 JW Anderson

That doesn’t mean new purchases can’t be beautiful, or that it’s all soupy sweats or boring T-shirts. Comfortable clothes can be chic – and it takes talented designers to make clothes that look wonderful but feel effortless. Case in point: don’t want to wear heels? Embrace the grounded comfort of JW Anderson’s leather mules with Brobdingnagian golden buckles, or Bottega Veneta’s stomping lace-up boots, both of which are perfect for toughening up a languid jersey Rejina Pyo dress. Indeed, the dresses that feel right for right now are not laden with embellishment and complicated silhouettes, but rather come with a simplicity and directness in shape and texture that allows them to be slipped on and off with the ease of a negligee, like Proenza Schouler’s shirred cinnamon-hued midi dress. It’s just as alluring as the most princess-worthy gown, without any of the ‘damsel in distress’ subtext.

Comfortable clothes can be CHIC – and it takes TALENTED designers to make clothes that look wonderful but feel EFFORTLESS

Dress, Proenza Schouler; shoes, and bag, both Loewe; earrings, Bottega Veneta
Vest, Acne Studios; pants, and shoes, both JW Anderson
Coat, Kassl Editions

Can’t be bothered to conjure up a new look every day? Instead, adopt a uniform and stick to it – a deliciously chunky corduroy suit by The Row will work just as hard as you do. All you need to do is add a crisp white Loewe shirt, or an effortlessly sleek Bottega Veneta ribbed-knit bodysuit. Consider it carte blanche for any kind of seasoning – a foundation to the pieces you already own, as well as the ones you might want to acquire later. Even the bags to covet right now are cloud-like pochettes that can be slung around the body like protective sartorial cocoons of armor – look no further than Moncler Genius’s plump quilted tote, or Transience’s banana-shaped nylon purse. Puffed-up silhouettes are always forgiving, so cozy they could double up as duvets or travel pillows – remember those? – and the same goes for jackets and coats, like Rick Owens’ abbreviated take on the Moncler puffer, or Jonathan Anderson’s version: a quintessentially classic trench coat with a soft, padded-down interior, so warming it will make you look forward to stepping out.

These are clothes and accessories to see you put your BEST foot forward to get through the DARKEST of doldrums; to offer a glimmer of HOPE

Coat, Moncler + Rick Owens; shorts, Acne Studios; boots, Bottega Veneta

These are the basics, the fundamental building blocks to a better and more efficient way of dressing, one that puts your needs and desires first. Sure, we’ll dance again, shimmying the night away in disco-ball dresses and vertiginous heels that make any Uber surcharge worth accepting. But for now, fashion’s mood, and indeed yours, is about timelessness. It exists to serve you, to make your life easier and more enjoyable at any given moment. These are clothes and accessories to see you put your best foot forward to get through the darkest of doldrums; to offer a glimmer of hope that you’ll still be able wear them on the other side of it all – with no regrets of impulsiveness or novelty. Most resolutions are often inevitably short-lived, but the right kind can be treasured forever. New year, same you, better wardrobe.